Another week, another comic, and another edition of Pulp swoopin’ down on ya like a pissed-off Batman! That’s right, ladies and gents, Pulp is back once again to delve into the realm of capes and cowls to talk about whatever wonderful story I’ve picked up this week and to allow me to continue associating my name with Batman in print (I’m living the dream, yo). There’s no dark knight detectives in this week’s comic, however; as promised, I’ve dredged up another title by Walking Dead maestro Robert Kirkman – Outcast volume 1, A Darkness Surrounds Him. Typically, I’m a few years late to the party; Outcast has been around since 2014, and has since been adapted into a TV series that airs on Cinemax in the US, which I can only assume is either a cable channel or some form of medication.
Kyle Barnes has had a shit life. It wasn’t always shit, though – his early life, living with his mother, was quiet, safe and happy. One day, however, something changed; his mother changed. Where she was once loving and kind, she was now cruel and violent. She neglected and abused him, and for a long time Kyle wondered why she hated him. She recoiled from his touch, and spat curses at him. It wasn’t until when day when he snapped, and forced her to confront him – and drove something evil from her body. His mother was possessed by a demon, and since that day, the demons have haunted him. He spent the majority of his life as a shut-in, and it’s not until he has a chance encounter with his local priest, Reverend Anderson, that he is roped into a campaign to drive the demons from their victims and cleanse his home town.
Outcast is pretty damn dark, if that wasn’t already obvious. It deals with some pretty heavy themes, like the aforementioned possessions, as well as some heavier stuff like child abuse and sexual assault. It’s certainly not for the faint-hearted, but when stitched together, all of these topics make for one really gripping tale. It’s almost a cross between the earlier seasons of Supernatural (back when it had some legitimately unsettling stories) and Paranormal Activity; you get the distinct impression that there’s a lot you don’t know, and a lot of things that are out to get both Kyle and Anderson. The majority of the characters seem to be a bit broken; Kyle is depressed and filled with guilt over his past actions with his family, Anderson seems to be struggling with his faith, and the majority of the townsfolk seem to be suffering in some way.
Kirkman has managed to craft a story that leaves you with this overarching sense of dread; you can just feel events spiralling out of control, but the effects are yet to be seen. I have to admit that I haven’t been the biggest fan of Kirkman’s work in the past, but Outcast is probably one of the better titles I’ve read from his selection (Invincible is still top of that list). Outcast is definitely a story for the horror devotees out there; it’s not the kind of thing you’d want to read if you prefer the lighter side of comics. That said, it’s written by one of the more popular horror writers around, so don’t just take my word for it – pick it up, have a read, and judge for yourself.
By Alastair McGibbon